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News and Comments - Kent Independent Education Advice

News and Comments

The latest news posted by Peter J Read; just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the over 800 regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item, who have gone beyond the headlines to look at the full article.  If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment.

Please feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk.

 
News items below appear below as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

Index

The proportion of Medway children offered one of their choices in a Medway primary school has risen slightly to 97.8%, the highest proportion for at least six years. There is just one minor reduction in one school's Planned Admission number with a total of 3955 places available. As a result, there are 535 vacancies across the 67 schools, which is 13% of the total available.

Fewest vacancies are on the Hoo Peninsula at 8% total, down from 11% in 2018. Just three of the nine schools have vacancies. Most vacancies are in Rochester with just one school, The Pilgrim School, significantly oversubscribed. 

Most popular school is once again Barnsole Primary which turned away 63 first choices, followed by Horsted Infants with 39 and Swingate 35. Barnsole and Swingate are the only two of the ten most oversubscribed schools to feature in both years. There are ten schools with 15 or more first choices turned down, spread across the Authority, and listed in the table below. 

Barnsole     Horsted School   Swingate

Eight schools have over a third of their places empty, down from 12 in 2017, headed this year by Elaine Primary with 70% of its places unfilled, brought down under the Williamson Trust, not exactly faring much better under its new sponsors The Inspire Partnership who have delivered at 35%, the lowest proportion of pupils reaching the Expected Standard and the second lowest Writing Progress score in Medway at KS2. Next comes Delce Academy with 67% empty places (featured in detail below) and then  third year running by Allhallows Primary Academy 53% ( but improving on all measures). See below for more details on both these last two schools.  Altogether 37 schools, over half of the total of 67 primary schools have vacancies in their Reception classes. 75 Medway children  were offered none of their choices and have been allocated to other schools with vacancies by Medway Council,  spread out across 22 schools, with 41 in Chatham and Gillingham schools.  

I look more closely at each Medway area separately,below, links as follows: Chatham; Gillingham; Hoo Peninsula; Rainham; Rochester; Strood, together with the situation for Junior Schools, here

If there are sections that need amplification, please let me know…….


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Index

Update: Copperfield Academy has been issued with a remarkable and very positive Ofsted Monitoring Inspection Report, described here

Both schools have been issued with tough letters from the Regional Schools Commissioner, threatening to remove them from their current sponsors, REAch2 in the case of Copperfield Academy in Northfleet, Gravesham, and Rainham Mark Education Trust in the case of Twydall Primary in Gillingham, Medway.

Copperfield Academy  for Website

 The letter for Copperfield is rightly the more brutal for I have recorded the misfortunes of the children of this school many times on this site, first in 2011, although a more recent article traces them back to around 2003 and there is currently no let up. This letter notes that: ‘the persons responsible for leading, managing, or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school’ and sets five specific conditions for improvement, including: that pupil performance improves by the end of 2018/19 (the recently taken SATs); that the next Ofsted Inspection removes the Inadequate label; and that no other REAch2 school from the 13 in the local region fails its Ofsted.

The Twydall letter was written in November 2018, before the 2018 Key Stage 2 results were published (see below), which show the school making rapid improvement from a troubled history that was topped off by a Serious Weaknesses Ofsted Inspection Report in June 2018. A Monitoring Inspection Report in April 2019 is wholly positive.  

You will find more details about Copperfield and Twydall below


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Wednesday, 05 June 2019 22:57

Academy and Free School News: June 2019

Index

This article looks at Academy and Free School news in Kent and Medway since September.

The biggest story is surely the mass conversion of seven Deal primary schools to become converter academies in the Deal Education Alliance for Learning Trust (DEALT), taking the proportion of Kent primary academies, and those still in the pipeline to over 40%. The other two Deal primary schools are already academised. Just two other primary schools have converted, Greenlands in Dartford and Halling in Medway. The new Chilmington Green Primary School in Ashford is fully opening in September, as are Stone Lodge School and River Mill Primary School in Dartford, whilst St George’s CofE Comprehensive in Gravesham is opening a primary section.

I have updated my comprehensive list of academies in Kent and Medway here and of Multi-Academy Trusts here.

I also look at various other news items relating to academies and Free Schools below, including; other new academies; new schools; expanding grammar schools; academy performance; individual academy trusts and schools; and 'Minded to Terminate' letters . This is an exceptionally long article, one of a series produced several times a year since the website began. However, I have been very busy on other matters so there has been a long period to cover since the previous item back in September.


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Update on Skinners' School Appeals: In spite of the new Admission criteria, I anticipated there would be around five successful appeals as in previous years. I now have it confirmed that there were five!

The issue of off-rolling is at last bubbling around official circles after many years of the practice being ignored. Ofsted has now come up with a formal definition although it can still be very difficult to prove, as many of those affected are vulnerable in different ways, reluctant to complain, fearful of the school, or simply do not know the actions are unlawful. 

OFSTED DEFINITION OF OFF-ROLLING
Off-rolling is the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without using a permanent exclusion, when the removal is primarily in the best interests of the school, rather than the best interests of the pupil. This includes pressuring a parent to remove their child from the school roll.

It can happen in any type of school, as I demonstrated a couple of years ago, when I exposed the Invicta Grammar scandal which went national and resulted in government being forced to clarify the existing law. Two concerned families recently sent me copies of the Registration Form for new pupils at The Skinners’ School, a super-selective grammar. This unlawfully provides for the Governors to be able to require the removal of any pupil on the recommendation of the Headmaster that it is desirable, explored in detail below!!!!!

A major pointer to off-rolling taking place is a large percentage fall in numbers between the start of Year 10 and January of Year 11 along with, or alternatively, high Elective Home Education numbers (EHE). The importance of the January date is that after this, pupils leaving the school will have their GCSE performance (or absence) counted in official outcomes. Nine Kent and three Medway schools lost between 7% and 14% of their cohort in this way  this year, five of them for at least two years running. 


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Index

Update on Barming Primary below.

There has been a small increase in the number of pupils being allocated places in Kent Primary Reception Classes for the second year running. Places for the additional 97 children were met by 93 more permanent and temporary places created in the last year, including 30 completely new places for both the new Chilmington Green Primary in Ashford and the new extension of St George’s CofE in Gravesend to become all-through.  River Mill Primary in Dartford is opening in September but is not currently part of the Kent Co-ordinated Admission Procedure, accepting applications directly. These two factors have produced very similar data in the proportion of Kent families being offered schools of their choice over these two years, as reported in my previous article on the initial data. The total number of children offered places in Kent reception classes on allocation in April is 17,634, up by 360 on 2018’s 17274 but still lower than the peak of 18,066 of 2016.

Brent Outstanding   2019 

The tightest part of the county is West Dartford with just 12 spaces in two of its 18 schools, an overall 1% vacancy rate (the second most oversubscribed Dartford school having just failed its Ofsted Inspection!), followed by urban Maidstone with 3%. The four most oversubscribed primary schools also occupied four of the top five places last year: Brent, Dartford (turning away 86 first choices); Great Chart, Ashford (54); Loose, Maidstone (48); and East Borough, Maidstone (46). Five of the ten most popular schools are in Maidstone.

                  Great Chart                   Loose                                       

Nine schools have over 60% of their places empty, led by Morehall Primary in Folkestone with 75% vacancies and including Martello Primary, also in Folkestone, with 63%, both run by Turner Schools.

I look at the issues in more detail below, including a survey of each separate District and also allocations for Junior Schools. You will find advice on what to do if you do not have the school or your choice here, and the reality of primary school appeals here


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I regret to announce that I am retiring from my personal advisory service for parents, over the past two years mainly conducted by telephone consultation. I am also no longer able to respond to individual enquiries.  I shall continue to operate the highly popular KentAdvice website with its unique mixture of information, advice, news and comment on education matters across Kent and Medway, although it remains primarily self-funded apart from a small income from advertisers (more are always welcome). This has always been driven by information from parents and professionals, to whom I am very grateful, and I hope that this practice will continue.  

The advisory service has operated in several forms since 2005, but throughout I have offered predominantly free advice to many enquirers on an individual basis. Whilst my main area of activity has inevitably been with school admissions and appeals, it has also covered such matters as special education needs, exclusions, and complaints, together with specific failures of schools and Local Authorities to offer an appropriate service or education to parents. The service has been based on my recognised and unparalleled independent experience of education matters in Kent and Medway.


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Update: The KCC Corporate Director, Children, Young People and Education has published KCC's most recent Ofsted data here. Whilst it confirms the excellent performance, it neither distinguishes between KCC schools and academies, nor does it count those schools whose Ofsted assessments have been cancelled after they have been academised, some of these losing the 'Inadequate' label. 

Kent Primary Schools inspected by OFSTED since September have again produced excellent outcomes overall, way above the national figures. There are two new Outstanding schools, both having followed the same route. These are Chilton Primary, in Ramsgate and St Eanswythe’s CofE in Folkestone. Both schools converted to become academies following a ‘Good’ Ofsted, then having a Short Inspection which recommended a re-visit for a full Inspection, that found them Outstanding, as explained below.

Chilton                                                         St Eanswythes

 

Another 86% of the 47 Kent schools inspected were found to be ‘Good’, up on the 2018 data at this stage. At the other end, two schools were placed in Special Measures.

Medway, for the first time in many years, has an improving set of inspection outcomes, with four of its 15 schools improving their assessment, a total of 13 or 87% being found to be ‘Good’, primarily due to a policy of academising all its primary schools, Removing them from being its responsibility. 

Further details for both Kent and Medway primary schools below.


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Medway Council has voted to support a bid for a new grammar school or satellite grammar in the Authority, apparently oblivious of the current data on grammar school places, with a large surplus in girls school places, due to get even larger next year when Rochester Grammar abandons its super selective status to give priority to local girls. Whilst the two boys schools are both full on allocation this year, this is achieved because of 82 offers to boys from outside Medway at the two schools, 48 from London. As my article on Medway grammar school allocations this year confirms, 23% or nearly a quarter of all grammar school places, went to children from outside Medway.  

I give below the full picture of allocations for Medway grammar schools in September 2019, which should surely have been placed in front of councillors to enable them to reach a rational decision! Unfortunately, the decision shows the Councillors could not have been aware of the facts. Yet another example of what I have previously called Medway Madness.

Unsurprisingly as I forecast elsewhere, I am hearing of children of families moving into Medway who are being penalised by the unlawful decision of Medway Council not to test them for grammar school entrance, as in my previous article. Another Medway grammar school issue has now been brought to my attention in that a number of boys and girls were offered places at Chatham Girls and Rochester, but who were not grammar qualified  have now had those places withdrawn. I look at this further below.

Does no one on the Council care about education????


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